Missing Middle Housing B Corp Projects Sustainability

Rebuilding for Those in Need: Opticos Designs for Wildfire Cottage Initiative

In October of 2017, wildfires in Northern California burned at least 245,000 acres and over 5,000 acres in Sonoma County alone. Since then, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County has explored ways to expand its programs across the board to serve households displaced by October’s devastating wildfires, including its latest initiative: the Sonoma Wildfire Cottages.


Opticos is proud to be part of the team, led by Marianne Cusato, renowned designer of the Katrina Cottage, and the Cypress Community Development Corporation selected by Sonoma Habitat, to design and build a series of model cottages on the Fountaingrove campus of Medtronic in Santa Rosa, California.

The idea is to build several state-of-the-art model cottages that will provide temporary housing for Habitat families who lost their homes to the fire. The project will also serve as a prototype to test innovative housing delivery systems for time and cost efficiencies. Integrating a number of sustainable design features, the structures will be served by solar panels on the Medtronic site in order to target and test net-zero energy performance.

Several manufacturers—including Connect-Homes, GigaCrete, and West Coast SIPs—are each employing specialized systems to deliver prefab buildings for the site. Once tested, the effort will establish a system to effectively and expediently deliver high-quality, affordable housing to disaster victims as well as others in the community affected by the fires.

With our small-site planning know-how and history of working on cottages in Sonoma County, Opticos is designing the layout of the temporary community and helping the team with local coordination of the effort.

Construction on the cottages is expected to begin this summer, and the anticipated date for occupancy is late fall and early winter of this year. In the short term, these homes are being built for survivors who lost their homes directly or indirectly in the 2017 wildfires. Once the families’ permanent homes have been rebuilt, these temporary structures will be relocated to a permanent location in the area to serve as permanent residences for other Habitat families.

Partners in the effort are Sonoma Habitat for Humanity, Habitat International, Rebuild Wine Country, Redwood Credit Union, and Medtronic Foundation.

We’re honored to be a part of this impactful collaboration!